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Health and Fitness Magazine

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    New delays hit Obamacare rollout before October 1 launch

    Get Covered America volunteers listen to a training session before canvassing a Chicago, Illinois neighborhood to talk with residents about the Affordable Care Act - also known as Obamacare - September 7, 2013. REUTERS/John Gress

    Get Covered America volunteers listen to a training session before canvassing a Chicago, Illinois neighborhood to talk with residents about the Affordable Care Act - also known as Obamacare - September 7, 2013.

    Credit: Reuters/John Gress

    WASHINGTON | Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:11pm EDT

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government announced new delays in rolling out President Barack Obama's healthcare reform, saying small business and Spanish-language health insurance enrollment services would not begin on October 1 as planned.

    Five days before enrollment is set to begin for millions of uninsured Americans, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said employers with 50 or fewer workers will not be able to sign their staff up for private insurance in federally operated exchanges until a month later, November 1, because of technical problems.

    The White House also said a Spanish-language service for Latinos, who make up about one-third of the 47 million uninsured in the country, will also not be available until "sometime in October."

    Administration officials did not explain the nature of the technical problems, but they emphasized that full online enrollment for other individuals will be available on October 1 under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

    The news stirred new doubts about how successful Obamacare will prove to be after months of delays and technical glitches following three years of legal and political challenges from Republicans and other critics.

    Obama and fellow Democrats are trying to stave off Republican attempts to delay the entire healthcare reform launch with the threat of shutting down the federal government or risking a U.S. default on its credit.

    "Obama was literally praising Obamacare when another delay was announced," tweeted Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.

    The administration sought to play down the delays, saying that new benefits for the uninsured would still begin on January 1. Small businesses would be able to shop for coverage next week, fill out paper insurance applications or discuss their options with call center staff.

    "As promised, people will be able to see what's in the marketplace, how to look at coverage, ask questions about whether or not this is good for their employees, find out about the tax credit then beginning November 1st, do the online enrollment," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an interview with cable-TV channel MSNBC.

    A release by the HHS focused on a ramp-up in government education and outreach efforts toward small businesses, mentioning the enrollment delay only in passing in the 8th paragraph for the Small Business Health Options Program.

    SHORT-TERM GLITCH?

    Word on the delays surfaced just after Obama wrapped up a speech in which he lashed out at his Republican opponents for predicting the law's failure, declaring: "The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.

    One Republican, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, said in response that "this is just the latest example of his rhetoric about the law not matching reality. It's clear that the exchanges aren't ready for prime time."

    But some members of the business community sounded a more supportive note.

    "This is a huge undertaking and October 1 is not the only opportunity for small businesses to enroll. The glitches will come and we hope they will be speedily resolved. But in the meantime I don't have the sense that small businesses were lined up at the gates waiting to get in," said Neil Trautwein, healthcare lobbyist for the National Retail Federation.

    John Arensmeyer, chief executive of the Small Business Majority, said Obamacare would bring major change to the U.S. healthcare system "so having a month delay is not a huge issue in the greater scheme of things."

    (Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington and Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Grant McCool)



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    Obamacare push accelerates as government shutdown nears

    A nurse attends to an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit of the Holtz Children's Hospital at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

    A nurse attends to an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit of the Holtz Children's Hospital at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami September 30, 2013.

    Credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper

    Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:52pm EDT

    (Reuters) - The Obama administration accelerated its push to persuade individual Americans to sign up for the most extensive overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system in 50 years, even as the program's foes in Congress fought to delay its launch with the threat of a federal government shutdown.

    The new online health insurance marketplaces at the heart of President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, are set to open on Tuesday. The marketplaces, or exchanges, will offer subsidized health insurance to low-to-moderate income families in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    On the eve of the launch, Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged millions of uninsured Americans to ignore the battle in Congress and instead focus on the access their families need to medical services.

    "Come Tuesday, Americans will be able to see for themselves that the Affordable Care Act isn't actually about Washington politics," Biden wrote in an opinion piece printed in local newspapers including the Des Moines Register in Iowa and the Birmingham News in Alabama. "It's about regular people shopping for insurance they can finally afford, and purchasing security and peace of mind along with it."

    State officials and community groups on Monday said they were putting the final touches on their exchange openings. The Department of Health and Human Services said that 900 businesses and organizations had volunteered to explain the new law to Americans nationwide.

    The roll-out would proceed even as Republican lawmakers fought to delay Obamacare by attaching amendments to a government funding measure. If Congress fails to reach a funding agreement by midnight, federal agencies will be forced to close, or partially close, at the start of the U.S. fiscal year on October 1.

    "Shutdown or no shutdown, we're ready to go to start enrolling people tomorrow," Sebelius told reporters. "We're about to make some history, and I think some very positive history for lots of families in the country."

    Republican U.S. Representative Charles Boustany of Louisiana, a leading critic of Obamacare, expressed misgivings ranging from the cost of coverage to the role of the Internal Revenue Service, a favorite target for conservatives that will help determine eligibility for health insurance subsidies.

    "We know that the IRS is in the mix of this ... We know there are major problems there. I have really deep concerns about where this is going," he said on Fox News.

    As many as 7 million Americans are expected to sign up for health coverage via the new exchanges for 2014. Another 8 million are expected to receive benefits through an expansion of the government's Medicaid program for the poor.

    The Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, requires that health insurance companies provide a basic package of benefits and prohibits them from excluding people due to prior illness. It provides billions of dollars in government subsidies, in the form of tax credits, to help individuals buy insurance on the basis of annual income. It also requires that all Americans obtain insurance, or pay a fine.

    Republicans and other groups have fought the law for creating what they say is an intrusive government system to oversee healthcare that will place financial burdens on individuals and businesses.

    EXCHANGES SET TO OPEN

    Federally-operated healthcare exchanges in 36 states will go live at 8 a.m. (1200 GMT). Among the 14 states that will open their own exchanges, New York, Colorado, Oregon and some other states running their own exchanges plan to open at 8 a.m. local time, while others may open as early as midnight.

    "It's a little hectic, as you can imagine. We've been a little overwhelmed," said José Calderón, president of the Hispanic Federation, a national organization that received government funds to help New Yorkers enroll. "It's going to be ACA (Affordable Care Act) all day and all night here."

    Despite enthusiasm among reform advocates, however, the roll-out promises to be a rocky. Several exchanges, including Oregon, Colorado and the District of Columbia, have already said key functions for enrolling won't be in place in the first weeks of October.

    Over the summer the Obama administration delayed numerous provisions of the law, most notably the requirement that large employers provide health insurance to their workers starting in 2014, as well as elements of the exchanges, such as their ability to sell policies to small employers and their workers and a Spanish version of the main website.

    Software problems threaten opening-day glitches. Over the weekend, armies of information technology specialists tested and re-tested the complex interfaces and communication links needed to make the exchanges functional.

    As opening day neared, many exchanges continued to ramp up education and marketing efforts. Kynect, Kentucky's exchange, handed out information at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Minnesota's exchange, as well as HHS, held live online chats to get the word out.

    From insurance companies and hospital executives to policy experts and politicians, there will be intense focus on how the exchanges function, and how many customers they attract, from the opening bell. For weeks, however, the Obama administration as well as states have played down expectations for October 1.

    "We are expecting a slight upturn of activity," Rebecca Lozano of the Portico Health Net, a Minnesota group that will help people enroll in coverage, said last week at an event hosted by Families USA, a non-profit that supports the ACA. "We're not imagining a run on the banks" on October 1.

    "Those with preexisting conditions are the people we expect to be at the door when the door opens," said Reagan Hunt, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health. "We have no idea what that number looks like."

    Sebelius said on Monday that "the key date really is the 15th of December," the deadline for buying coverage that starts on January 1. "For millions of Americans, the new options are going to be affordable, within their own budgets. So January 1 can be a new day. It can begin to change the statistics where we will no longer have a large population in this country who doesn't have access to the best medical care."

    (Reporting by Sharon Begley in New York and David Morgan in Washington; Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf and Curtis Skinner; Editing by Michele Gershberg, Tim Dobbyn and Paul Simao)



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    Republicans press U.S. officials over Obamacare snags

    U.S. President Barack Obama walks out to deliver remarks alongside Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (R) and other Americans the White House says will benefit from the opening of health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

    U.S. President Barack Obama walks out to deliver remarks alongside Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (R) and other Americans the White House says will benefit from the opening of health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, October 1, 2013.

    Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

    WASHINGTON | Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:41pm EDT

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in Congress chastised President Barack Obama's top health adviser on Thursday for declining to testify before an oversight panel about problems in rolling out the president's signature healthcare program known as Obamacare.

    Less than a day after Congress ended a 16-day partial government shutdown precipitated by Republican demands to delay or defund Obamacare, they sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius demanding she make officials available for the October 24 hearing.

    The online insurance exchanges that are a central part of Obamacare rolled out on October 1 despite the shutdown but have been hobbled by technical difficulties that Sebelius has said are being fixed.

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing is titled: "Implementation Failures: Didn't Know or Didn't Disclose?"

    The letter from majority members of the committee said they invited Sebelius on October 11 to appear at the hearing, only to learn on Wednesday that she would not attend. The administration has not agreed to provide other administration officials, the letter added.

    "It's well past time for the administration to be straight and transparent with the American people," said a separate statement by Republican Representative Fred Upton, who chairs the panel.

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had no immediate comment.

    A spokeswoman for the panel's Republican majority did not respond to a Reuters inquiry about whether subpoenas would be issued by the committee.

    Upton said top administration officials had previously said that everything was on track, but the broad technological failures revealed that was not the case. "Either the administration was not ready for launch, or it was not up to the job," he said.

    Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is expected to provide private health coverage to an estimated 7 million uninsured Americans through the new online marketplaces that opened for enrollment in all 50 states on October 1.

    But the website Healthcare.gov, the administration's online portal for consumers in 36 states, was hobbled by technical issues - including error messages, garbled text and delays loading pages - that administration officials partly blame on an unexpectedly high volume of 14.6 million visitors in its first 10 days.

    Sebelius recently appeared on the cable-television comedy program, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" for an interview that focused on the website's problems.

    But HHS and the White House have largely declined to disclose information about the problems plaguing the federal marketplace's information technology system, which cost nearly $400 million to build, according to a report by the watchdog Government Accountability Office.

    "This is wholly unacceptable. Secretary Sebelius had time for Jon Stewart, and we expect her to have time for Congress," Upton said.

    Upton's panel is one of at least three House committees expected to hold hearings as part of a new Republican plan to attack the healthcare reform's weaknesses, beginning with the problem-plagued technology behind its launch.

    The oversight is expected to span the cost of new insurance plans under the healthcare law, online security, fraud, the role of the Internal Revenue Service and the fate of consumers who are unable to enroll in coverage in the coming weeks, according to congressional aides.

    "It's not just a bumpy rollout. We're crossing a bridge with a warning sign that says: BRIDGE OUT," said Republican Representative Tim Murphy, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce panel's health subcommittee and plans to hold his own hearings.

    "We'll be trying to get people from the administration to tell us whether they were pretending everything was OK or was there an internal cover-up or did they just not know?" he added.

    Oversight is also not the only strategy Republicans are planning.

    House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement that Republicans will rely on "smart, targeted strikes" aimed at splitting Obama's support in Congress. His office did not elaborate.

    But strategists say Republicans plan to use newly begun budget talks to jettison provisions of the law that are also unpopular with Democrats, possibly including a $29 billion tax on medical devices and a panel to control costs within the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled.

    (Editing by Tim Dobbyn)



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    Obama to call healthcare website glitches 'unacceptable' as fix sought

    Supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as ''Obamacare'', gather outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

    Supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as ''Obamacare'', gather outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013.

    Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Bachman

    WASHINGTON | Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:13pm EDT

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will declare the glitches in a new healthcare website "unacceptable" on Monday and outline ways for consumers to sign up for insurance while his team scrambles to fix problems that have tainted the rollout of his signature healthcare law.

    Fresh from two weeks of budget battles that have consumed Washington, Obama will hold an event at 11:25 a.m. (1525 GMT) in the White House Rose Garden with consumers, small business owners, and pharmacists who have been affected by the new law.

    The move is the highest-profile step in a broad damage control effort that the administration has launched since technical problems with the website, healthcare.gov, have prevented Americans nationwide from signing up for a program that will largely define Obama's domestic policy legacy.

    "The president will directly address the technical problems with HealthCare.gov - troubles that he and his team find unacceptable - and discuss the actions he has pushed for to make it easier for consumers to comparison shop and enroll for insurance while work continues around the clock to improve the website," a White House official said on Sunday.

    The president will say the product itself and the goal behind it - insuring millions of uninsured Americans - are good despite the problems that have plagued its rollout.

    Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a blog post it was bringing in a "tech surge" of people from inside and outside government to help iron out glitches in the online insurance exchanges that are a central part of the program known as "Obamacare," which launched on October 1.

    Obama's event, the HHS blog, and comments from Democrats on Sunday television news shows demonstrated a full-on push to offset criticism from Republicans and opponents of the law who say its rollout is representative of wider issues.

    Republicans in Congress have chastised Obama's top health adviser, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, for declining their invitation to testify about the glitches to an oversight panel on October 24.

    Officials stressed on Sunday that the problems were being addressed.

    "I think that there's no one more frustrated than the president at the difficulty in the website," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

    Obama told aides in a recent Oval Office meeting that the administration had to take responsibility for the fact that the website was not ready on time.

    Administration officials are expected to travel the country in the coming weeks to encourage people to sign up on the exchanges, targeting areas where there are high percentages of uninsured, according to one official.

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is expected to provide private health coverage to an estimated 7 million uninsured Americans through the new online marketplaces that opened for enrollment in all 50 states on October 1.

    But the website, the administration's online portal for consumers in 36 states, was hobbled by problems including error messages, garbled text and delays loading pages.

    COMMITTED TO DOING BETTER

    Administration officials blame the problems partly on an unexpectedly high volume of visitors in its first 10 days. According to HHS, there were more than 19 million visits to the website.

    "We are committed to doing better," the department said in its blog post on Sunday.

    Despite the problems, it said, other parts of the system were functioning well.

    "Individuals have been able to verify their eligibility for credits, enabling them to shop for, and enroll in, low- or even no-cost health plans," the department said.

    "We have updated the site several times with new code that includes bug fixes. Our team has called in additional help to solve some of the more complex technical issues we are encountering."

    Late on Saturday the White House reported nearly half a million Americans had applied for health insurance through the federal and state exchanges provided by Obamacare.

    Many Republicans were criticizing the program long before its rocky launch. A 16-day partial government shutdown that ended last week was precipitated by Republican demands to delay or defund Obamacare.

    Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who led that campaign, vowed on Sunday to step-up his opposition, even though his tactics have been called a mistake by members of his own party.

    "I would do anything, and will continue to do anything, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare," Cruz said on ABC's "This Week."

    Lew said the program's test would be in January, when the actual coverage starts for people who have enrolled by December 15.

    "I think that if we get that right, everyone will regret that the early weeks were choppy on the website. But the test is: are people getting coverage and are they getting the care that they need? And we're confident we're going to be on track to do that," Lew said on NBC.

    Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, acknowledged problems with the Obamacare launch, but said they should be understood in the context of the program's size.

    "Any system that deals with that many millions of people frequently does have a glitch," Pelosi told ABC News' "This Week."

    "It has to be fixed, but what doesn't have to be fixed is the fact that tens of millions more people had access to affordable quality health care and no longer will have a pre-existing condition bar you from getting affordable health care."

    Obama said in an interview with National Public Radio on October 1 that he was prepared for some problems in the early months of Obamacare as healthcare exchanges were launched.

    (Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Margaret Chadbourn, David Morgan, and Steve Holland; Editing by Eric Walsh)



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    Sebelius expected to appear at U.S. House panel on Obamacare rollout

    Related Topics

    Supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as ''Obamacare'', gather outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

    Supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as ''Obamacare'', gather outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013.

    Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Bachman

    WASHINGTON | Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:20pm EDT

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee said on Monday that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to appear before the panel on October 30 to answer questions about the troubled rollout of President Barack Obama's healthcare law.

    The Republican-controlled committee, in a statement, also said lead contractors for implementation of the law, also known as Obamacare, will testify at a separate hearing on Thursday about their role in the rollout.

    CGI, Serco, and Equifax have confirmed that they will send representatives, and QSSI has also been invited to appear, the committee said.

    (Reporting by David Morgan and Karey Van Hall)

    We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

    http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

    Comments (1)

    waltkie

    wrote:

    Today White House says they may delay the individual mandate due to someone not using Yahoo Site Builder to build the obamacare website.

    On Sept. 30, GOP took their 2nd step back from a total defunding of obamacare to merely delaying the individual mandate 6 months longer than it already is set, this would have ended the “shutdown.”

    White House said no.

    And they call Bush an idiot?

    Oct 21, 2013 7:19pm EDT --

    Report as abuse


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    Top Obamacare official apologizes for website 'debacle'

    U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is sworn in to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about issues and complications with the Affordable Care Act enrollment website, on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 30, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

    1 of 2. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is sworn in to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about issues and complications with the Affordable Care Act enrollment website, on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 30, 2013.

    Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

    WASHINGTON | Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:41pm EDT

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's top health official apologized on Wednesday for the botched rollout of the government's healthcare website, acknowledging it was a "debacle", while also blaming insurers for cancelling coverage for hundreds of thousands of people.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, testifying at a congressional hearing on the troubled website at the heart of Obama's healthcare overhaul, vowed to win back the confidence of millions of disappointed Americans.

    "Hold me accountable for the debacle. I'm responsible," Sebelius said in response to questions from Marsha Blackburn, the Republican U.S. Representative of Tennessee, about who was responsible for problems that have prevented people from signing up for healthcare insurance plans.

    Technical glitches have dogged the Healthcare.gov since its launch on October 1, preventing many people from signing up for insurance plans. But critics of Obamacare have seized on the hundreds of thousands of Americans due to lose their current plans because they fail to include essential benefits required by the law and are asking whether Obama misrepresented the law.

    Sebelius, the cabinet official spearheading the implementation of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, drew intense criticism from Republicans including Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Upton accused Obama of breaking a 2009 promise that people with insurance could keep their current plans.

    "They are now receiving termination notices, and for those who lose the coverage they like, they may also be losing faith in their government," the Michigan Republican said.

    Sebelius defended the administration by describing hundreds of thousands who have received cancellation notices as the victims of a market long known for discriminating against the sick, cancelling policies and selling inadequate insurance.

    "The individual market ... anywhere in the country has never had consumer protections. People are on their own. They can be locked out, priced out, dumped out," by insurers, Sebelius said.

    Sebelius said Obama had not broken his promise because plans that have existed since the law was signed have had the option of remaining unchanged.

    Democrats on the committee rallied to the administration's position by pointing out that insurance policies being canceled would be replaced by better plans that meet higher standards under Obamacare, many of them at lower costs.

    "I would urge my colleagues to stop hyperventilating," said Representative Henry Waxman of California, the committee's top Democrat.

    Sebelius has become a political punching bag for Republicans who have repeatedly called on her to resign over the flawed rollout of the website. The White House continues to support her.

    "I am as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch of Healthcare.gov," Sebelius testified. "So let me say directly to these Americans: You deserve better. I apologize.

    "I'm accountable to you for fixing these problems. And I'm committed to earning your confidence back by fixing the site."

    The hearing was convened to discuss problems with Healthcare.gov, the federal government's portal to online health insurance marketplaces for millions of uninsured Americans in 36 states. The site was crippled by technical glitches at its launch and continues to be plagued by issues including outages.

    The administration has set itself a late-November deadline for resolving the issues at Healthcare.gov. Experts say that leaves little time for additional error. Failure to enable uninsured people to sign up for coverage beginning January 1, when the law comes into full force, could jeopardize Obama's goal of enrolling 7 million people through online marketplaces in 2014.

    (Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and Susan Cornwell, and Susan Heavey; Editing by Karey Van Hall and Grant McCool)



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    Obamacare website to be down again for maintenance late Saturday

    Related Topics

    A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration. REUTERS/Mike Segar

    A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration.

    Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

    WASHINGTON | Sat Nov 2, 2013 12:51pm EDT

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The glitch-ridden website used to sign up for insurance under President Barack Obama's healthcare law will be down for "extended maintenance" overnight on Saturday, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

    The website has been plagued by technology problems and has not worked reliably since its launch on October 1, embarrassing the administration and providing ammunition for Republicans seeking to roll back the law known as Obamacare.

    The application, enrollment tools, and "data hub" will not be available from about 9 p.m. ET on Saturday (0100 Sunday GMT) until 9 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) on Sunday, a spokeswoman for the department said in a statement, telling consumers they can call a toll-free call center to apply for insurance in the meantime.

    "The HealthCare.gov tech team is performing extended maintenance this weekend to improve network infrastructure and make enhancements to the online application and enrollment tools," said Joanne Peters, the spokeswoman.

    The administration has said it will fix the site by the end of this month. The government hopes that about 7 million people enroll for insurance by the end of March under the law passed in Obama's first term to expand access to health insurance and require that people have coverage or pay a fine.

    The administration said it expects early enrollment numbers to be low, in part because of the website's problems. Documents released this week by a U.S. House of Representatives committee showed only 248 Americans had signed up in the first three days the site was running.

    The administration has said it will not release enrollment statistics until mid-November.

    (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Vicki Allen)

    We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

    http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

    Comments (8)

    user8192

    wrote:

    Run, break, fix … run, break, fix …

    You know, this turkey is never gonna fly. Might as well butcher it and serve it up for the holidays.

    Nov 02, 2013 1:09pm EDT --

    Report as abuse
    SeniorMoment

    wrote:

    They have so many top experts working on the problem now that maybe after the closure for maintenance the system will actually be able to keep up with demand. If that should happen it may set a record for the faster fix of such a large software project.

    Nov 02, 2013 1:25pm EDT --

    Report as abuse
    Moby

    wrote:

    POTUS: I didn’t know, it’s not my fault, the Republicans are behind it, no one will lose their insurance, well some will because the insurance companies are doing this, but it will cost you less, well maybe not… look, we’ve only spent a half billion on this so far, that’s peanuts. Actually what I’d like to see is that this be a terrible failure so we’ll be forced into a one-payer system – which I will be happy to run after I’m out of office. Well, maybe not, if I can get the Constitution changed so I can remain as President for another two terms. I think next time I’ll take in Hillary instead of Biden. Yeah.

    Nov 02, 2013 1:39pm EDT --

    Report as abuse


    0 0

    Troubled Obamacare website enrolled fewer than 50,000 in October: WSJ

    Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:09pm EST

    A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration. REUTERS/Mike Segar

    1 of 2. A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration.

    Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

    (Reuters) - Fewer than 50,000 Americans were able to sign up for new Obamacare health insurance plans through the error-plagued HealthCare.gov website serving 36 states, falling far short of the federal government's target, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

    Citing two people familiar with the matter, the Journal reported that the number represented sign-ups since the October 1 launch of new insurance marketplaces under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform.

    "We cannot confirm these numbers," said Erin Shields Britt, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in a statement. "More generally, we have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time."

    If accurate, the numbers fall far short of government expectations for nearly 500,000 sign-ups for HealthCare.gov in October.

    The Obama administration is due to release national enrollment numbers sometime this week.

    (Reporting by Michele Gershberg, additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Sandra Maler)

    FILED UNDER:

    We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

    http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

    Comments (2)

    NEWAGER

    wrote:

    Many doctors will refuse to accept Obamacare patients because after the insured pay one month of premiums, they are given a 3 month grace period. If they refuse to pay premiums, doctors and hospitals are left holding the bag. They won’t get paid by the insurance company. http://reason.com/archives/2013/11/09/obamacare-leaves-doctors-on-the-hook-for/1

    Nov 11, 2013 5:18pm EST --

    Report as abuse
    Loucleve2

    wrote:

    So, thats 1,612 per day.

    At that rate, it will take 6,823 MONTHS to enroll all 330 million of us.

    Yippee!

    Nov 11, 2013 5:36pm EST --

    Report as abuse


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    Most of us have seen it by now. That perfect press flag: A human being suspended on a vertical pole, elbows locked, with no point of contact other than their own two hands. It's mind-blowing. Riveting. Spellbinding. Whether it was at the playground or on YouTube, few can forget the first time they witnessed this feat of super-human strength. The combination of power, precision and balance never fails to leave an indelible impression.

    Sure, detractors are quick to claim that the human flag doesn't represent functional strength or absolute power, but is rather just a way to show off. I vehemently disagree. What's more absolute than this maneuver, which is only learned—or rather, earned—through countless hours of technical and muscular training? As for function, riddle me this: Have you ever seen a weak individual pull it off? I thought not.

    Look around online, and you'll find many tutorials, articles, and blog posts which discuss how to train toward performing a full human flag. They're everywhere, and some are better than others. But what I've never seen is an article that speaks about where to go beyond the human flag.

    Until now...

    Fat Bar Flag

    First things first: Anyone who can perform the classic flag for even a few seconds is a serious force to be reckoned with, so give yourself the credit you deserve if you've ever pulled it off. But now it's time to raise the stakes. I recently wrote a piece for this website about grip power. One of the proven methods I discussed was to substitute a fat bar for a standard one. At the time, I was talking about weight training and pull-ups, but the same methodology works for advanced human flag training.

    "A proven method I discussed was to substitute a fat bar for a standard one."

    Most human flags are performed on a bar no more than about 2 inches in diameter. A simple way to progress this beastly move is to try it on a pole that is 3, 4, or even 6 inches thick. Since you won't be able to wrap your fingers as far around the pole as you normally would, you will need to compensate. This will require extra pulling power from the top arm, lat, and shoulder. Further, there will have to be some "palming" from the lower arm; you'll barely be able to grip it at all from this angle.

    I find it helpful to point the index finger of my bottom hand directly to the ground. This can help to establish proper positioning. Like everything human flag-related, this takes some getting used to.

    Odd Surfaces

    The Human Flag can be progressed in ways that move past the pole itself. Incorporating odd surfaces, uneven grips, or staggered hand patterns can take your training over the edge. Whether you're flagging on a rock formation or subway station, odd surfaces generally lack something to grab onto in the first place. In these situations, creativity is the key.

    "Incorporating odd surfaces, uneven grips, or staggered hand patterns can take your training over the edge."

    One of my core philosophies in training—and life—is not only to accept, but also embrace, the fact that we must improvise. Advanced practitioners of the human flag know what I'm talking about. Sometimes the rulebook has to go out the window. There may be times when you'll have to keep your palms parallel, your bottom hand open, or even use a "hook grip" from the top arm. Experiment. Push your limits. This is where things get fun!

    One-Arm Human Flag

    It's often been said that the ultimate progression, or "master step" if you will, is the one-arm human flag. Most folks have never seen it. In fact, it may be hard to even picture for the uninitiated. You see, when we eliminate a whole arm from the equation, we have to pick up the slack somehow. This is one exercise where it is essential to use your head—literally!

    "This is one exercise where it is essential to use your head—literally!"

    This is harder than it looks. It's not enough for the head simply to support the body; you must actively press it into the surface from which you are flagging. I recommend wearing a hat. It is also worth mentioning that this progression cannot be preformed on a pole, since a flat area for your head is required. The one-arm flag takes tremendous neck strength and full body power to execute.

    But can we take it even further?

    Human Flag with External Resistance

    If you've ever done a squat, a press, or curl, then you know that adding external resistance to any exercise increases muscular demand. The human flag is no exception. Since it's already so challenging to the arms, lats, and shoulders—not to mention the entire lateral chain—adding any weight at all is serious business!

    You will probably feel like you're lifting your body higher than usual; you'll be fighting additional gravity. In fact, it may feel like your feet are pointing at the clouds, when in reality, they're barely parallel to the ground. This can prove to be an unexpected proprioceptive challenge, aside from the obvious strength hurdle.

    "This can prove to be an unexpected proprioceptive challenge, aside from the obvious strength hurdle."

    Further, it is important to consider the mechanics of a weighted human flag. The closer the resistance is placed to your lower body, the harder it will be. This is basic physics. Therefore, particularly when attempting this for the first time, make sure you keep the weight closer toward your shoulders, not toward your feet.

    I've done this version of the human flag using weight vests, a cinderblock chained to my body, and even other humans! The gains are incredible, not to mention the wow-factor.

    At the end of the day, imagination is our biggest strength and our minds are our strongest muscle. Never be afraid to be creative or challenge the mainstream. This is just the beginning. Let me know your thoughts and keep aiming big and training hard!


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    Clean eating. We've all seen it held up as the best way—the only way—to live a fit life, look and perform like an athlete, and not die before our time. Of course, clean eating has a dirty little secret: It always comes alongside its greasy sidekick, the cheat meal.

    This makes me sad, and it irks me. I'm talking about the whole clean/cheat setup, and really, the whole idea of "clean." I've spent time on the darkest side of clean eating—namely an eating disorder—and I think it's time for this way of thinking to die. My job now is to spread the gospel of flexible dieting.

    Many of you might be familiar with that term, but it's probably from misguided articles and forum posts ridiculing the idea of IIFYM (aka, "if it fits your macros"). If you're a clean eater, you may have made some snarky remark a time or two about us flexible dieters being unhealthy. Perhaps you've even commented on our moral character. We're bad people, we're going to hell for eating pretzels, and we should be ashamed of ourselves because we eat our baked potatoes with butter. The gall!

    Enough with the snarky name-calling! Let me show you the truth, the way, and the light to food freedom! The first step is to debunk the most common myths about flexible eating.

    "Enough with the snarky name-calling! Let me show you the truth, the way, and the light to food freedom!"

    Myth 1

    False! Eating a bunch of crap is ... well, crap. That's the typical American diet, and it's far from what constitutes flexible dieting.

    Key components of flexible dieting include
    • Overall mindfulness of macronutrient and micronutrient intake, whether you count macros. This means that you're aware of approximately how much protein you consume, and that you also get sufficient fiber.
    • Understanding that treats and junk food are allowed, but not as the norm. I like to recommend an 80/20 rule. Other people lean toward 90/10; that still feels fairly restrictive to me.
    • Portion control. This is vital. There's a difference between 1 doughnut and 12, and you don't abuse this. Think a handful of gummy bears rather than a whole bag. A small serving of sweet potato fries with a chicken salad. A glass of wine to complement a steak.

    So what do flexible dieters eat? Primarily whole food sources, with a sprinkling of fun indulgences on the side. If the typical American is going to eat a croissant and a glass of orange juice for breakfast, he is not a flexible dieter. What a flexible dieter might do instead is throw in an omelet with that meal, keep the croissant, and then choose better carb sources for the rest of the day. Why? Because, a croissant is a treat.

    Believe me, I've definitely tried to get in my protein and fiber through junk food alone, and it can't be done. There's no realistic way to meet your daily nutrient needs through chocolate and gummy bears. Besides, who wants to survive on a steady diet of nothing but sugar and fat? That would make anyone sick. In fact, it's making plenty of people sick all around us, all the time. It's called type-2 diabetes.

    And if you do end up having a particularly treat-heavy day, then the next day, you rein it in a little. You don't obsess over it; you don't worry about it; you just move on. It's all about checks and balances. Don't mistake that for bingeing and purging—there's a big difference.

    Myth 2

    What's healthy about a restricted food list? There is nothing positive that can come out of putting a whole slew of foods off-limits and shackling yourself to specific food items. Let's take a look at your clean diet for a second:

    Meal 1: Oats and egg whites for breakfast
    Meal 2: Chicken, white rice, and almonds for lunch
    Meal 3: Protein shake with a banana post-workout
    Meal 4: Lean beef and green beans for dinner
    Meal 5: Casein or cottage cheese before bed, maybe with peanut butter

    Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And let's be honest, I've given a generous portrayal of a clean diet there. The real thing is often far, far more repetitive.

    Yes, I understand that consuming a nutrient-dense diet is incredibly healthy. But that's not what "clean eating" is. There is an incredibly high correlation between exclusive eating (i.e., limiting food choices) and binge eating. This is no coincidence. Study after study has shown that as soon as you deem a food forbidden, your desire for it increases even more, even if you may have never wanted it in the first place.

    Not allowed to eat chocolate? All of a sudden, that's all you can think about.

    On the flipside, having the option to consume a treat doesn't mean that you will necessarily chow down on it. Rather, it means that you won't be using up your willpower to actively resist the food.

    Myth 3

    You tell me what's worse for your health:

    • Eating a square of chocolate every evening, savoring every bit of it, and then moving on with your life, OR
    • Hurriedly scarfing down not one, not two, but three whole chocolate bars in one sitting with no self-control whatsoever and then feeling guilty—not to mention bloated—for the entire next day, if not longer.

    I think the answer is obvious.

    Newsflash: It's entirely possible for a flexible dieter to eat the same way as a clean eater most of the time. Yet come Saturday night, the clean eater may go out to dinner for his weekly cheat meal and have a burger, French fries, and a milkshake, followed by cheesecake for dessert, and then come home and eat everything but the kitchen sink. The flexible dieter, on the other hand, can have the same burger and French fries and have no problem stopping there. Hell, he may not even finish the fries because he's reasonably full and feeling satisfied.

    Do you see the difference here? The flexible dieter hasn't lost touch with what satisfaction feels like. Throughout the week, the flexible dieter stuck to whole food sources not because he had to but because he wanted to. He had no problems whatsoever with controlling his food intake on the weekend.

    "But sugar is bad for me," a clean eater might proclaim. Well, did it ever occur to you that the only times you allow yourself to consume too much added sugar is when you binge?

    Sugar itself may not be the culprit. After all, apples contain sugar. It's the massive quantity of added sugar you consume in one sitting that makes you sick.

    Myth 4

    Not all flexible dieters choose to count their macros. But for those who do, the guidelines for determining macronutrient guidelines aren't too different from those of bodybuilders and other strength athletes.

    Namely, protein intake is usually around 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, and carbs are 0.6-1.5 grams per pound, depending on goals, the leanness of the individual, carb tolerance, body type, metabolic capacity, age, and activity level. Fats fill in the remaining calorie allotment. People who are striving for muscle gain naturally will have a higher calorie allotment, 16 times bodyweight or upward. People who are looking to lose weight would start off closer to 10-12 times bodyweight.

    Let's use me as an example. I'm a 24-year-old female mesomorph, 115 pounds, with approximately 18 percent body fat. I train five days each week with a low-to-medium activity level for my job. I would calculate my maintenance macros for training days as follows:

    Total Calories: 115 pounds x 15 = 1,725
    Protein: 1 g/lb. bodyweight = 115 g, or 460 cal (4 cal/g protein)
    Carbs: 1.5 g/lb. bodyweight = 173 g, or 692 cal (4 cal/g carbs)
    Fats (total remaining calories): 1,725 - 460 - 692 = 573 fat calories, or 64 g fats (9 cal/g fat)

    Some flexible dieters like to carb cycle between training days and off days like I do, not only for the physiological benefits but also because it affords them the leeway to fit in higher-carb treats on training days and, conversely, higher-fat treats on off days. My off-day macros might look like this:

    Total Calories: 115 pounds x 15 = 1,725
    Protein: 1g/lb bodyweight = 115 g, or 460 cal (4 cal/g protein)
    Carbs: 1 g/lb. bodyweight = 115 g, or 460 cal (4 cal/g carbs)
    Fats (total remaining calories): 1,725 - 460 - 460 = 805 fat calories, or 89 g (9 cal/g fat)

    Having 89 fat grams for an off day would allow me to consume foods including, but not limited to full-fat cheese, coconut oil, nut butters, and maybe even some fried goodness.

    This is just one of many possible approaches to the macro puzzle. Flexible dieting is all about honoring your personal preferences with regard to macronutrient amounts, food choice, meal timing. This will allow you to adhere to your program and consequently yield the best results.

    Myth 5

    Look up #flexibledieting hashtags on Instagram and all you'll see is the ice cream, Pop Tarts, and burgers that we consume. But what the pictures don't tell you is that those foods actually make up a small portion of our daily food. We typically don't show off the chicken breast, sweet potatoes, and veggies we consume. Why? Because it's way more fun to talk about our treats.

    So no, a cheeseburger is not the same thing as eating a high-quality cut of protein. But if we decide to order that burger, it's because we've been eating well recently, weighed our options, and perhaps even factored the meal into our macros. We've decided that that's what we truly wanted to eat, and we have no qualms about indulging our taste buds for a night.

    Again, flexible dieters prescribe to an 80/20 rule or some variation. We care about our health just as much as a clean eater does, but we also understand that to make a lasting lifestyle change, we need to create sustainable habits. We have no timeline to get to where we want to be; we're all about enjoying the ride.

    Are you a flexible dieter? If not, what are you waiting for? Freedom awaits you. Are you a clean-eating diehard? Make your case in the comments.


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